If statistics were to introduce us to one hundred women and girls, 57 of them would have given birth before their 16th birthday. We would meet 22 girls who became mums before age 14. Developed in response to the widespread concern of early pregnancy in Uganda, the Mentor A Mum (MAM) project addresses the causes and consequences of teenage pregnancy by leveraging the very social support and education young mothers aged 12 to 18 are denied by their situation.
Early pregnancy is widespread across Uganda, affecting 1.2 million girls aged 12-16 every year. The social stigma and economic repercussions an excluded young mother faces generally end her school career. The moment her pregnancy is detected, a girl finds herself with no recourse for support, monetary or social. Now, with a newborn requiring significant care, a girl, still a child herself, is expected to stave off family dishonor with early marriage and almost no prospect for quality education.
We address this situation by putting young mothers in a position to take decisions about their own futures and those of their children. Through our mentorship programmes, we assist young mothers with personalised educational options: to re-enter formal primary education, prepare for the Primary Leaving Examinations and enter secondary education, or to participate in our Alternative Education Programmes (tailored courses and training) if they are unable to re-enter formal education.
MAM promotes the economic and social reintegration of 1000 teenage mothers as respected citizens in their communities. While these mothers are currently facing hardship, disrespect, shame and the prospect of marriage against their will as a survival solution to their pregnancies, our approach leans on mentors to build skills and change mindsets. The holistic formal education offered through MAM paves the way for young mothers to gain financial autonomy and support themselves and their babies.